Why this B.C. man spent $600 to order pizza all the way from Windsor, Ont.
Vancouver Island’s John Palmer was craving the nostalgic, hometown taste of Windsor-style pizza
When John Palmer had a craving for a hometown slice, he went out of his way to satisfy it.
The B.C. Transit worker had a stack of pizzas shipped more than 4,000 kilometres from a restaurant in Windsor, Ont., where he grew up in the '70s, to his home in Colwood, B.C., on Vancouver Island.
Between the cost of the pies and the shipping, he says the whole endeavour set him back more than $600, which he split with his friend and fellow Windsor ex-pat, Nigel Couch.
"This was not an economical decision. This was an emotional decision," Palmer told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann. "We're going to enjoy and savour every bite, and every memory that comes with that bite."
What's so special about Windsor pizza?
Palmer says there's plenty of excellent pizza to choose from on Vancouver Island — but it's not "Windsor pizza."
The Ontario city lays claim to its own unique style of pizza, with local cheese, canned mushrooms, and most importantly, shredded pepperoni — "to make sure that you get pepperoni in every mouthful," Palmer said.
As far as he's concerned, there's nothing better.
"It's the consistency in every bite. I think we've all experienced, you know, a great mouthful of the first bite of pizza, and then when you pull the pizza away, half the toppings come off with it," he said. "You're not going to get that with a Windsor pizza."
Palmer ordered five king-sized pies from Antonino's Original Pizza, but they were so big, the pizzeria had to split them in half and send 10 separate pies.
The friends had them shipped overnight Wednesday via UPS. They arrived stacked in two separate boxes, wrapped, half-baked and frozen.
Palmer says the UPS worker who delivered the grub told him this wasn't his first time delivering Windsor pizzas. He told Palmer he had shipped two pizzas from Windsor to Dubai last year.
Antonino's Original Pizza says it's not responsible for the Dubai delivery, but it has shipped pies nationally before.
"It's always a Windsorite abroad who is missing their world-class hometown pizza that makes it happen," the restaurant said in an email to CBC News. "Goes to show there's really nothing like Windsor-style pizza."
Just last year, Windsorite Madonna Beaudette made headlines when she shipped a couple of pies from the aptly named Windsor Pizza to her brother on Vancouver Island.
"The last time he was here was in 2004 and he took a pizza box in his suitcase, which did not end up well," she told CBC News at the time.
Sharing pizza and memories
Palmer says he's been amazed by the positive reception he's been getting since the Times Colonist first reported his story.
"I kind of expected people to be like, 'Here's a guy who's got more money than brains,' but for a lot of people, that triggered memories of their food experiences where they grew up," he said.
Those memories, he says, are what it's all about.
Once Palmer's pizzas arrived, he and his wife invited his father, his father's wife and his sister-in-law — all of whom once lived in Windsor — over to dine with them.
His sister-in-law's kids, who didn't grow up in Windsor and are satisfied with Domino's, were not invited.
"We sat around and had Windsor pizza and talked about the good old days, and it was exactly what we had remembered," he said. "It was just a wonderful evening."
But his remaining pies, he says, are not for sharing.
"That's it," he said. "I've shut the door now. Nobody else comes in except my wife and I."
Written by Sheena Goodyear with files from CBC Windsor. Interview with John Palmer produced by Paul MacInnes.
- An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Antonino's Original Pizza as Antonio's.May 06, 2022 10:42 PM ET